Author: Driver

Auction Excitement – It’s Not Just for Bidders!

Bright lights glimmer on the glass-like paint of a collector car as it’s rolled onto the auction block. The sound of the audience’s chatter is cut by the voice of the auctioneer as the first bid is called. The energy in the air is palatable as bidders compete to win this prize automobile, and bid spotters yell to the auctioneer with each bid placed. Their screams echo from all corners of the room until the winning bid is called and the car is rolled off the block to make way for the next shiny classic.

With each auction car onlookers, both in the live and television audience, watch in anticipation of what the next car will sell for. Was it a steal or did it go for way more than they thought it would? Some watch in amazement of the prices rare – and sometimes not so rare – vehicles sell for. These big numbers can be intimidating to the regular classic car enthusiast, but the truth is that most auctions have something for everyone both on and off the auction block.

Many people may not realize that you don’t even have to be a bidder to enjoy the experience of attending one of these auctions. As the popularity of classic car auctions has grown some auction houses have gone the extra mile to make the onlooker’s experience just as rich as the buyer’s. I recently attended the Barrett-Jackson Northeast auction at Mohegan Sun Casino and got to learn about some of the cool experiences anyone attending the auction can enjoy.

If you want to get the best of the behind the scenes experience make sure you wear comfortable shoes, because the “car corral” areas equate to one of the biggest car shows you’ll ever attend! An entire parking garage and exhibition area are filled with all of the cars you see cross the block, so even if you’re not ready to place a bid you still have a chance to get up close and personal with these rides. Speaking of rides, each day Ford, Chevy and Dodge had riding or driving experiences where you could see what it’s like to be behind the wheel of their performance vehicles.

If getting under the hood is more your thing you could swing by the DIY pavilion and watch a hotrod get put together from start to finish during the span of the auction. Some other live demos at this auction included a detailing demo courtesy of the folks from Adam’s Polishes and tool demos by family owned business Bad Dog Tools.

The Motor Trend Live Stage offered a place to continue the conversation about cars that already rolled across the block, and was another place where spectators could get up close to the action.

Attending these auctions is not only exciting, but offers a way to be part of the action…and maybe even learn something new! There’s an experience for everyone here, whether you are a new collector deciding what your first classic will be or a seasoned collector looking to fill a space in your garage. Wherever you fall in that spectrum, make sure you’re part of the excitement at the next auction – I’ll see you there!

A New Cadillac for the Driving Enthusiast

So much of the talk about new technology in the automotive world has been centered around self driving cars, making true driving enthusiasts everywhere cringe at the thought of being behind a wheel that they’re not steering. So it was refreshing to see Cadillac’s introduction of their new 4.2L twin turbo V8 engine, a completely re-imagined design and the first motor exclusive to Cadillac in years.

This engine places the turbo at the front end of the exhaust cycle, a more compact design dubbed the “hot vee” configuration. This efficient design cranks out 550hp and 627 pound feet of torque. Reimagining this new engine’s design from scratch was no small task – Cadillac’s Chief Executive Engineer Brandon Vivan explained that the redesign was a three-year process.

Anyone who wants to see what this new motor can do can test it out in Cadillac’s 2019 CT6V-Sport, an everyday car built to appeal to driving enthusiasts. This car can take you on your normal driving routine, or you can put it in track mode and push it to its limits (which you should actually do at the track!).

The CT6V Sport is part of Cadillac’s ambitious portfolio reinvention: every six months Cadillac will introduce a new model until 2021! The team at Cadillac has a strong foundation to build on, which also means the cars they are creating have big tire tracks to fill. Their focus is on quality and performance while staying true to Cadillac’s heritage as a luxury brand. I definitely recommend stopping by the Cadillac area at the auto show to learn more about this new engine technology and sit behind the wheel of the new V-Sport!

The Evolution of the Ford GT

In the world of performance cars competition breeds ingenuity, and the new Ford GT is the outcome of a competition that started over 50 years ago. Back in 1963 Henry Ford II and Ferrari were negotiating the sale of Ferrari to Ford. But if the company was sold Enzo Ferrari still wanted to control racing program, and “the Deuce” wasn’t having that! Long story short, the negotiations fell apart and ended with Ford determined to settle the score with Ferrari on the track.

Three years later Ford’s racing team placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd at Le Mans with the GT40. Not only did they beat Ferrari in the race, but this was the first time an American car won at Le Mans. They came back for the next three years, and were the first to cross the finish line every time. After their win in 1969 Ford packed up the racing team and stopped producing the GT40.

It would be another 35 years before the GT – Ford’s GT40 inspired performance car – hit the market. The first generation GT was in production for a few years, then off the market again…until now. The second generation GT is true to its roots: super fast and poised to compete with European supercars in performance and design.

And compete it did! This year the GT won in it’s class at Le Mans, 50 years after Ford’s historic first win. Not long after this win the Ford GT was proudly displayed at Barrett-Jackson’s first Northeast auction at Mohegan Sun. During the auction I had the chance to talk to Jim Owens, Ford’s Performance Marketing Manager, about the work that went on behind the scenes to make this win possible.

The look of this car alone tells you it means business. But woven into every curve and vent, and behind every carbon fiber panel is innovative engineering. Although this is a street car it’s built to race. Jim explained that the ACO rules require the race car to be delivered with all the safety features it needs to be safe on the streets. This means that the GT being delivered to the consumer is 99% the same car that won Le Mans.

“It’s the ultimate of form follows function in this car,” Jim explained. You might think that there’s a big V8 under the hood, but the engineering team was able to produce well over 600 hp with an EcoBoost V6. Using the smaller block reduced weight and package size, allowing for a wider air dam which helps cool the engine and improve stability. This approach also helps with overall endurance, which is key to finishing a 24 hour race like Le Mans.

The GT embodies the evolution of the performance car market. Engines are going from working hard to working smart in a time when bigger isn’t automatically better. Efficiency is usually not the first word that comes to mind when talking about race cars, but the EcoBoost system brings efficiency into the conversation. As Jim pointed out “To have available power when you want it, but not be using it when you don’t need it, is good for the Fiesta all the way up to the Ford GT.”

This approach to building cars – from a family sedan to a killer race car – is economical and socially responsible. But most importantly it produces cars that pack a punch, delivering efficiency without jeopardizing the driving experience. The engineering behind this technology, coupled with the competition in the performance car market, make now more than ever a great time to be a performance enthusiast.

A Hybrid Even Hot Rod Owners Can Love

Electric and hybrid cars are getting more and more common, but if old school muscle is what you really love to drive you might not be giving these cars a second look. Steve Ling, Ford’s Strategy & Electrification U.S. Marketing Manager, thinks you should start paying these rides some attention.

I met Steve to talk about Ford’s Fusion Energi in a pretty unlikely place: surrounded by classic muscle cars at the Barrett-Jackson Northeast auto auction. The Fusion’s appearance here was no mistake, in fact it’s part of Ford’s effort to talk to all kinds of auto enthusiasts about their electric vehicle program.

What the Fusion doesn’t have in classic muscle form it makes up for in luxury. The 2017 model comes in a new Platinum trim level, with a detailed and comfortable interior giving its luxury class competition a run for its money. There are plenty of options under the hood as well, including hybrid or plug in hybrid with a 1.5L EcoBoost.

Steve talked about the Fusion’s powertrain setup, describing it as the best of both worlds solution that can work for many people. The plug-in hybrid has a combined range of 610 miles, with 21 miles in electric only mode. Once that 21 miles is surpassed the gas engine kicks in to drive the car and help recharge the batteries. Steve hopes that consumers who might not have driven a hybrid before can feel comfortable behind the wheel, explaining “you don’t give up anything, you have plenty of power…and you don’t have any of that range anxiety.”

Ford is achieving this range thanks to an efficient, calibrated electric engine. They’ve been making hybrids since 2004, so this experience helps them produce vehicles that perform. In addition to focusing on their vehicles’ performance Ford is working with corporations and municipalities to increase the availability of charging stations, helping to make driving a plug-in car that much more convenient.

If you’re still worried about finding a place to charge your car Ford’s app will help you find the nearest place to plug in. This app also does things like let you start your car remotely so it’s nice and toasty on those cold winter mornings. The technology of the app is complimented by the SYNC 3 entertainment system which can help teach you to drive more efficiently with the battery coach feature.

The technology behind this car is cool, but what may be even better is the low maintenance factor of a hybrid. The electric engine needs very little attention, and Ford even warranties the batteries for the Fusion for 8 years or 100,000 miles.

You may be used to driving an old school hotrod where the closest thing to luxury is pulling a lever to slide the seat back, and fuel efficiency means not flooring it at a green light. But even die hard muscle car fanatics need a car to drive for the every day. So why not save your gas money for your vintage V8, and think about getting behind the wheel of a hybrid the next time you’re running around town. You really can have the best of both worlds!

Taking it Beyond the Classroom at Premier Restoration Enterprises

There are several hundred students who attend Automotive High School in Brooklyn, NY, but there is a special group who can call themselves part of “The Pit Crew.” These are the students who spend their after school hours engulfed in the frame-off restoration of a 1968 Chevy C10 Pickup. Although these students got involved because they wanted to be a part of a restoration from start to finish there is a bigger picture here: once it’s complete this truck will be auctioned off to raise scholarships for students enrolled in the program.

This project is the signature activity of The Riding With Us Foundation, a recognized not-for-profit organization that works to create scholarship and mentorship opportunities for students who want to pursue a career in the automotive industry. This restoration started off with a pickup truck donated by a local Brooklyn business owner, and has been fueled by monetary and parts donations from both individual supporters and corporate sponsors.

Most recently, Premier Restoration Enterprises of Clifton, NJ has joined this effort by taking the lead on the bodywork component of the project, work that the facilities at Automotive High School aren’t equipped to support. Not only is this work happening in their fully outfitted shop, but they are also donating some of the skilled labor needed to make this restoration a success.

Premier Restoration Enterprises has been giving classic cars new life for over 20 years. Although they have recently seen a rise in resto mod requests, this shop does everything from classic car maintenance to complete matching-numbers restorations and hand-fabricating parts that are no longer in production. Their builds have been featured in shows such as the New York International Auto Show, but most of their projects are done for private collectors.

The efforts of Premier Restoration will make a huge impact on the project. Their workmanship and experience will result in a high quality restoration of this truck, and the chance for our students to work with a shop of this caliber is an experience that will leave a life-long impression. The Pit Crew recently had their first visit to Premier’s shop, and their excitement could barely be contained. If having the chance to see some amazing cars at all stages of restoration wasn’t enough, they also got the chance to learn from professionals with a lifetime of experience. Premier’s owner, Arthur, took the time to walk the students through each part of the shop. Throughout the day he talked to them about the different career opportunities in the automotive field, as well as what it means to own a business in this industry.

Invalid Displayed Gallery

No matter how excellent a school’s curriculum is there is no class that can substitute for the experience of learning from industry professionals. The insight that mentors such as Arthur share with these students opens their eyes to possibilities for their career that they may not otherwise have realized, and creates a new excitement for working in this field. This is why it’s so important for our industry professionals to get involved with our youth. The continued success of the industry, and the success of the next generation of the automotive industry, depends on it.

To find out how you can be a mentor to our future automotive professionals contact Michele Fox at The Riding With Us Foundation at or 347-948-7980

To learn more about the incredible projects happening at Premier Restorations Enterprises, or to make your dream restoration a reality contact them at 973-546-1800 or

Driving Barrett-Jackson

Putting together any one of the major auto auctions is nothing less than an amazing feat of staffing and organization, incorporating a not-so-small army of regular, on call and contracted employees.  The Scottsdale edition of the Barrett-Jackson auction is one of the biggest, pushing what seems like an endless stream of cars across the block in a span of 6 days.  I was lucky enough to hang out behind the scenes at the 2016 show, and got to talk to some of the drivers, security peeps and organizers.
Despite the fact that a good number of the people who work this auction only work for Barrett-Jackson one week out of the year, the show operates like a well-oiled machine.  Some of the guys I talked to were there working for the first time, while others have been doing the show for years.  As I walked around the auction and took in all the one-of-a-kind rides my curiosity automatically went toward the drivers.  I mean, how do you get to sit behind of the wheel of these cars anyway?
Well you won’t be seeing any ads on Craig’s list for this position, so don’t bother doing a search.  It seems like most of the drivers are there because they were referred by someone, and had some sort of connection to the auction staff.  And I could understand why they would do things that way…these rides must be handled with care, and they have to have confidence in EVERY person who has access to the keys.
I will say that I was a little jealous as I was hanging out with these guys (and ladies) in the staging area.  Although they work really long hours (as in 14-20 hour days long hours), they get to drive cars that most people will never even see outside of maybe a museum.   As one guy said “I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I love this stuff.”  Yes…we all love this stuff, and we can’t see what they get to drive across the block at the next one!

Clarion Builds a BMW…and it’s pretty cool!

The “big tent” at the Barrett-Jackson auction houses the best of the best the auction has to offer. From a regal Rolls Royce that probably hasn’t seen the road since prohibition, to a Chevelle that should require earplugs be in your ears before your butt’s in the seat, the collection under this tent really does have a little bit of everything. As I was walking through this gigantic mass of automobile history a little powder blue BMW caught my eye. With its European style and small stature it stuck out a little bit, and I wanted to know what the story was.

Upon closer inspection I could see that this ride had lots of cool modifications – just enough to make it different, but still in keeping with the spirit of the original style. As cool as the look of this car was, the story behind it is even cooler. This is the inaugural project of the Clarion Builds program, the purpose of which is to connect Clarion to a wider audience and support a great cause (more on that in a minute). This project was started in 2014, and the first year was taken to source and build this ride. Once the build was complete Clarion started showing off this car throughout the US, and it will continue to travel until it’s sold at the Barrett-Jackson 2016 Palm Beach Auction.

The concept behind the build was to bring this BMW up to present day standards while keeping the look and driving experience authentic to the original car. The stock engine was rebuilt with some performance components, and the suspension and braking system were upgraded. And of course a new audio system was installed, cleverly fitting into this car’s new interior. Clarion hopes this and future builds will help strengthen the next generation’s love of the car culture.

But that’s not all this car will do. Once it is auctioned off at Barrett-Jackson 100% of the proceeds will go toward Tgen, a Non-Profit Biomedical Research Institute. They perform groundbreaking research on the genetic components of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease and are making a real difference in the fight against these conditions.

So make sure you look out for this sporty 1974 BMW 2002 when you are watching the Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach auction. I can’t wait to see what they can raise for this great cause, and what Clarion Builds does next!

Desert Valley Auto Parts: The Real Deal

In the Arizona desert there exists what equates to a gold mine of sun bleached metal for any classic car collector…a place that most know as Desert Valley Auto Parts or “DVAP”. A business that started as a small scale parts sourcing endeavor has turned into an unbelievable 40-acre collection of classic car carcasses – some more picked over than others. For anyone undertaking a true original parts restoration, or for someone who has a car with hard to find parts, this place is the holy grail of junkyards.
For a $2 fee you can walk the yard for as long as you want. It’s easy to get lost in the windy paths between piles of cars organized by make, for the simple reason that there’s so much cool stuff to look at! The only thing that might stop you is the Arizona sun…it gets hot fast, and you better wear some sunscreen. Or you can opt to have one of the guys take you for a spin in one of their Mad Max-esque yard vehicles (which I thought was pretty fun) and get where you’re going a little faster. These guys know the yard well, so whether you go in person or deal with them over the phone, they will help you find what you need.
Not to go unmentioned is the nice little collection of potential project cars parked around the front of the office. Being someone from the east coast – where a lot of old school project cars are rusty and overpriced – I was impressed with the selection. I had to resist the urge to take one home, since I have enough of a project on my hands already. Speaking of, Dan, Ty and Justin helped me with the parts I needed for our 1968 C10 build. I left there happy, and with lots of cool pics of cars waiting to be part of someone’s next build. Check them out in the gallery below, and check out DVAP at

Kelderman’s Killer Trucks

This year at SEMA trucks were everywhere. From tricked out vintage Chevy C10’s to outrageous off-road rock climbing monsters, the variety was crazy. There were even pickups on the drifting track – who knew a pickup could drift? But one group of trucks had something special hidden underneath – a suspension system that not only gives these trucks a smooth ride without sacrificing towing capability, but also gives the ability to adjust the height of the truck itself. This something special is the Kelderman Air Suspension System.
I had the chance to catch up with Jeff Kelderman and his team at SEMA this year and take a look at the trucks they brought out to the show. He explained that their air ride suspension system was build to cater to towing trucks, giving these trucks a smooth ride whether or not they are hauling a load. They specialize in high-end customization for trucks that can go off road, or haul anything from RV’s to trailers.
What’s really cool about these trucks is how their height can be adjusted from super-high monster truck status to good old regular pickup. If you want to see what I mean check out this video.
This system is made to fit Ford, Dodge and GM trucks, but I think the Kelderman team can retrofit just about anything. People from all over send their trucks to this Iowa shop to get tricked out – if you want to do the same with yours check out their website

A Conglomerate of Classics by South Beach

On too many drives down interstate 95 I passed by South Beach Classics, only giving the old schools in the lot a quick glance as I zoomed down the highway. During my latest trip I decided to take some time and make the stop so I could see what they have going on in there…and what I found was building after building filled with classic rides.
I didn’t get to meet the owner, who most probably know from their show on the Velocity channel, but I was greeted by a nice older gentleman who was holding down the showroom on this Saturday. I could tell everybody there has a passion for classic cars, and it shows through in the collection of some weird, some pristine, and some outlandish autos.
Take a look at the gallery below and see some of the inventory I got to check out while I was there: